Sunday, June 23, 2024

Lead by Example ~ They are Paying Attention!

 Originally published 02/08/2014 
at Reflections Beneath the Poetz Tree
by: M.B.Varville-Rodriguez

This week I have had several opportunities to read parenting insights, articles of interest, and various postings through social media. I have been astounded at the number of self-deprecating comments that are made - mostly by women. Why is it so hard for us to acknowledge our accomplishments and celebrate our successes?  Do we not feel deserving of the compliments we receive?  I have at times acquiesced to this behavior as well.  Historically women have allowed themselves to feel that they must be the support system, cheering section, and behind the scenes pit crew for the work force rat race.  Is that really what we want to demonstrate for our children?
Children will absorb the lessons they observe from us as their adult role models. When we downplay our achievements, brush off compliments, or minimize our roles, we send a clear message that we are not worthy of our successes. If humility has a place in our lives, then so should accomplishments.  We may not even realize how important it is to demonstrate confidence in our abilities and skills.  Children need to see that we can solve problems, cope with emergencies, and demonstrate self-sufficiency when things do not go as planned. 
So the next time you receive a compliment on something you worked to achieve or on a personal attribute with which you are gifted, it's OK to smile and say, "Thank You."  Recently I received a compliment regarding my parenting skills from a school counselor.  I replied with, "Wow. I feel really humbled."  She responded with a firm tone, "There's no need for humility."  That was an eye opener.  I am grateful she was so candid with me. Women need to remind each other that it's more than OK to acknowledge our awesomeness. 
How wonderful it would be if we all felt supported and willing to surround ourselves with positive and uplifting advice, compliments, and encouragement. Likewise, it would be soul rewarding to accept advice on how we can rethink our perceptions so that we can continue to learn and grow.  I have been the recipient of such wisdom.  It was not always easy to hear, but when I thought about the implications, I chose to take the advice to heart.  Women can either chose to sabotage each other's efforts or they can choose to mentor and inspire each other.  How will you choose to develop your legacy?
Have a Wonderful Week filled with positive and uplifting interactions. If that becomes a challenge, maybe it's time to rethink who inspires you and brings out the best in you. I will continue to do the same.  Thank You to all my fellow writers, friends, and family who are my inspirations.  I will make an effort to provide compliments, referrals, support, and loving reminders.

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Sunday, June 16, 2024

Summertime Reminder: More Mess = More Fun (Mostly)

This article first appeared on the following site on July 5, 2016
Reprinted here with revisions.
Monkey Bars, Mud Pies, and Movement
by: M.B.Varville-Rodriguez

Copyright 2018 World of Writer Mom


It's O.K. to let the kiddos enjoy a water play fountain or mud puddle once in a while.  One of the best memories I have from childhood is when my younger brother and I played in a huge mud puddle outside our home.  We were covered in mud and totally soaked in dirty water.  My parents, unbeknownst to us, were filming our antics.  They have the evidence that I encouraged my brother to dip his hair into the filthy muck and we both laughed as the muddy water trickled down his face when he lifted his head.  We had a blast and I'm still amazed that my parents actually let us do that.  My mother said that she never could get all that mud out of our clothing no matter how many times she washed them. But that memory is priceless. Documenting memories is an investment in your family's history!  

Don't worry, my brother got me back many times over. He could tell me a story with a straight face, and I always believed him. I kinda still do. His jokes are legendary, and I love it when he sends me my favorite "Far Side" cartoons. But the amount of fun we had as kids often involved getting as much mud, dirt, and water on ourselves as possible before the streetlights came on at night.

   Let's paint, create with play dough, cook in the kitchen, 
and make blanket tents! 

Copyright 2018 World of Writer Mom
Kids need lots of opportunities to explore, play, and get messy.  I remember a day when I took my three children to a park right after it rained.  I had not anticipated the play area would be so flooded.  The kids were restless and didn't care that the ground beneath the swing set was muddy.  They had been in the house all day and needed to play.  I hadn't planned for it but went ahead and let them get messy.  They laughed, had fun, and even made-up stories to go along with their muddy adventure.  I couldn't help but laugh with them as I recalled my own muddy memories.  We finally decided to go home when it became too chilly, and the wind picked up.  I didn't even mind the clean-up of both car and kids following our visit to the park. 

Here are a few things to remember if it's hard for you 
to get on board with the tremendous messes 
that come with childhood:

Summertime Reminders

1. Kids are washable. A bit of bath water and some soap and most of them clean up well.

Copyright 2018 World of Writer Mom

2.  Messy memories are some of the best ones. We also loved lots of finger painting that
     often reached beyond their fingertips, play dough, cookie creations with lots of flour
     everywhere, and bubbles. All of these required clean up.

3.  Dirt, sand, and grass stains were the result of many creative play adventures. Kids learn
     through play. Let them have opportunities to explore and get messy! Then take them to
     the laundry mat for a whole new adventure! (Lol)

Copyright 2018 World of Writer Mom

4.  Don't worry too much about the clothes. They outgrow them pretty fast anyways. Also,
     shop at thrift stores like Good Will and The ARC to save on clothing costs. Then you
     won't feel as bad when the clothes get messed up. Save other clothes for special
     occasions if you'd like but be prepared to take pictures right after putting them on the
     kiddos. Chances are, that adorable outfit won't stay clean very long. 

5.  Kids LOVE projects! When my siblings and I were growing up, my mother signed up to
     receive craft kits once a month. This kept us occupied and allowed our family to create
     some incredibly fun things: Candle making, Macrame plant hangers, Decoupage
     decorations for the wall, Cross stitch Christmas ornaments, and so many more! 

Copyright 2018 World of Writer Mom

Inside Secrets of a Former Child Development Teacher

TIP:  If your child attends a full day childcare program/school, please expect that at some point those clothes will become dirty. Please do NOT send them in their best outfits and expect them to look the same way at the end of the day. They need to have fun, and the teachers need to worry about other things besides keeping clothes clean.
I have to remind myself on a daily basis that messes comes with childhood.  Now that my three children are much older, I do have expectations that they pick up their room and try to keep the house clean.  (And that battle is for another blog.)

Copyright 2018 World of Writer Mom

As I write this, their rooms reflect a disaster of epic proportions, and I am trying to breathe through the trauma that occurs when I walk past their I try to keep closed. But for now, I'll smile at the messy memories as we work toward that next stage in their development. 

Happy Monday everyone!

Copyright 2018 World of Writer Mom

Wishing everyone a wonderful week filled 

with challenges, adventures, &
plenty of resources to tackle your goals!

Speaking engagements & Advocacy Coaching

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a presentation, inspirational speech, or coaching session
to advocate for your personal cause or concern.
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Rates are negotiable.

Thursday, May 23, 2024

Anatomy of A Conversation - Life's Lessons

Originally published at Reflections Beneath the Poetz Tree 
on Friday, November 22,2013
by: M.B.Varville-Rodriguez

Note: This post was a reminder to me that time is dynamic and waits for nobody. I now have two children who have graduated from high school and one more to go next year. These teachable moments can be easily missed if one is not fully present, distracted, and on the phone. Please take time to consider the impact and benefits of observing, shutting down social media, and engaging in conversations when these opportunities present themselves. Time moves quickly. don't miss out on these moments.

Copyright 2018 World of Writer

I am always intrigued by how a seemingly simple conversation with my children can evolve into a more serious subject matter.  Wednesday morning, I dropped Sebastien off at school first since his brother Nathan had a doctor's appointment.  I then returned home for transportation round#2 with Isabella needing a ride to Middle School then Nathan and I going to the doctor's appointment from there.  On the short ride to drop off Isabella, I asked Nathan to please remind me to pick up a bottle of water for Sebastien so I could deliver it to him when Nathan was done with his appointment.  Sebastien's Spider Man water bottle had sprung a leak when I attempted to fill it that morning.  It was a Dollar Store purchase, so I didn't expect it to last the entire school year. 

Sebastien likes to chew on the top to his water bottle, so it was likely the cause of its early demise.  Nathan made a negative comment about this, so I felt compelled to launch into my developmental explanation about why some children have a need to chew on things:  water bottle tops, erasers, etc...I informed Nathan that some children, like Sebastien, actually need to chew to help them focus while in school.  Sebastien has a lot of motor energy that is probably hard for him to contain while in school.  Yet he does it extremely well.  Chewing may be a compensatory technique for him.  I'm not sure if it totally convinced Nathan, but it did allow me to further explain another topic near to my heart.

We discussed how everyone has different learning styles.  Some people are kinesthetic learners and need to be able to touch items to learn about things.  Writing, hands-on science experiments, and learning about letters through texture props can facilitate learning.  Also, some individuals need to be in motion to pay attention and learn.  Last year Sebastien's Kindergarten teachers were excellent about allowing the class to participate in music and movement prior to beginning their rotation of centers.  They learned their sight words through action games such as a "snowball" throw.  The sight words were written on sheets of white paper, wadded into balls, and placed into a large bucket.  When the teacher began the music, a snowball throw began.  When the music ended, each child had to grab one snowball and bring it to the teacher.  The child then opened the ball and revealed a sight word, which he/she recited for the teacher.  Brilliant and fun!  I had the opportunity to observe this for the Christmas party last year and was impressed by the results.

Some individuals are visually tuned in and do well with written information, posters on display in the room, and other props.  I explained to Isabella that when I help her with homework, I always ask to see the math problem or the information she is trying to study because I need to have that visual cue.  If she just recites the math problem, it is harder for me to focus on a way to help her.  I also need pencil and paper to show her how I envision the problem being solved.  (kinesthetic)  

Music is a terrific auditory cue that helps with memorization of information.  Listening to the teacher, hearing a video tutorial, and being able to study while listening to music, a movie, or other external sounds are also indications that someone is an auditory learner.

We talked about how sometimes children can be on "sensory overload" and have a difficult time focusing in a classroom.  This overload can happen if the lights are too bright, there are unusual aromas in the room, if others are talking too much, or if the classroom has so many decorations and information displayed in the room that they become distracted.  (I have seen a lot of overloaded classrooms - sometimes out of necessity when teachers have no storage space.)

I explained to Isabella and Nathan that sometimes a child will be allowed to chew gum in the classroom if it helps him/her focus on the assignments.  Other children may be prescribed treatment by an Occupational Therapist that encourages them to sit on a therapy ball instead of in a regular desk chair because it helps the student maintain focus.  There are many reasons why students could benefit from adaptations to their environment and to their workstations.

When I mentioned the therapy ball, Isabella shared that there is a student in one of her classes who uses a therapy ball and sees a therapist.  The child is having a hard time attending to her work and gets distracted.  The student lost a parent in a car accident just over the summer and needs extra assistance adjusting to Middle School due to the trauma experienced so recently.

Of course, I started to get teary-eyed.  I stopped in front of the school to let Isabella out and gave her a big hug.  I told her how much I love her.  You never know when a car ride to school will lead to a conversation that stops you in your tracks.  Forget about the list of things that you planned to do!  That day, I took Nathan to his doctor's appointment, picked up another water bottle for Sebie, took Nathan back to school, and personally took the water bottle and a snack to Sebastien's first grade classroom.  Those simple actions took on new meaning for me as I thought about the now mother-less middle school child whose life had changed forever over the summer.  And I felt a deeper appreciation for the opportunities I still have to talk to my children about the things that matter to me and to them.

Anatomy of A Conversation indeed!  Allow your children to talk, but also take those teachable moments and see where a conversation might lead.  From a chewed-up water bottle to learning styles to the loss of a parent...all these conversations are helping my children gain information that will shape who they are, how they learn to cope in the world, and hopefully inspire them to respond with compassion to those in need when the time comes.

Thanks again for taking time to read this and I welcome your input regarding the subjects I write about.  Sharing resources and encouraging each other as we go through our journey as parents is a worthwhile endeavor.  It is a pleasure to have you along for the ride.

Speaking engagements & Advocacy Coaching

 Contact me at for information to schedule
a presentation, inspirational speech, or coaching session
to advocate for your personal cause or concern.
I can also assist with written communication needs.
Rates are negotiable.